Who can resist the romance of a Jane Austin classic? So very timeless is the theme of love and desire, and so very alluring is the restrained passion of the Regency & early Victorian era, that Jane Austin’s novels have been made and re-made into TV and film classics, and even with the vast difference in society and culture from that by-gone era to now, we still find relevance and identify with the heroes and heroines … and who doesn’t want a Mr Darcy of their own?
The lovely Alice is our model for this look, and with her delightfully long hair the goal was to create a simple yet elegant silhouette based on the Jane Austin look. Ladies of this era, especially in the countryside a la Pride and Prejudice, often did each others hair or had a maid, so these are looks we can create without being a fully qualified hairdresser. Hopefully this look helps you create your own Regency or early Victorian fantasy.
This is a real vintage episode for our “Treats” blog, in fact it has the distinction of being one of the first ones we ever did! And as such, we didn’t film any of the progression, so this installment of “Treats” will have instructions, before and after shots and some extra info in between to assist you.
Here are the before shots of our lovely model:
The Regency / early Victorian is an excellent style to break down as it’s a wonderful basic preparation base for a multitude of styles. With a very simple set of steps, the finished look is only limited by your skill and creativity.
We divide the hair into two distinct sections, separating the front/fringe area and sides from the rest leaving at least two to three finger widths around the hairline at the sides behind the ears and the back/nape. Taking an oval shape around the crown and top of the head, we create a slick tight ponytail right on the crown. You can adjust this forward for more height or back for more volume but ultimately your goal is to balance the profile. the most pleasing balance is created by drawing a diagonal line from the chin, to the centre of the ear to the head; where your line ends is about your ‘crown’. I like to place my ponytail there or a bit higher if the hair is longer. NB: Very long hair ladies, you may even decide to make two ponytails, one just under the other, for more comfort.
Now set this pony tail into random curls. Hot rollers or a curling iron will do just as well, but I personally prefer rollers for ease and practicality. The curls don’t need to be the exact same size or direction, but it is important to not take huge chunky sections or the hair will not curl properly. Once you have this area set and pinned up or in rollers, set the remainder of the hair into bigger soft curls. Volume isn’t important here, so you don’t need to lift up at the roots; your focus instead will be on setting the mid-length to ends of the hair. Be sure to set smoothly with pretty ends that curl nicely, as that’s the part you will use the most in the finished look. In previous episodes of Treats, we have demonstrated setting with curling irons and straightening irons, and in an upcoming chapter we will demonstrate hot rollers for you.
This step may seem counter-intuitive, but you will in fact dress out the top first, so lets go back to the pony tail(s) you have set. Check if the hair has completely cooled down. This typically takes about 20 minutes and that’s maybe the time you spent curling the rest of your hair or doing some make up. So first of all, you will back comb individual curls or parts of curls slightly, approximately the width of 2 fingers, with some variation. This will keep the curls together a bit more like a ribbon so you can style some curls. Tackle each curled piece of hair you will style into curls one at a time, separating the ponytail into about 6-8 curled ribbons of hair overall – the number will vary depending on the thickness of your own hair but I don’t like to do less than five or it looks too much like a flower – and not a nice one either!
With each curled ribbon of hair, gently apply a little very light wax or spray shine and use a comb to gently smooth the visible surface of the ribbon without removing all the back combing. We recommend CHI Shine Infusion. Use your fingers to create a loop with the ribbon, leaving the ends out, and pin to the base ie: the flat to the head area of the ponytail you created with a bobby pin, holding the bottom of the curl to the head. Repeat with the remaining ribbons of hair at varying distances from the pony tail base. Using your creative intuition and visual aids (mirrors/friends/etc) and placing them in places that fill out the interior section closer to the base of the ponytail rather than the outside edges of this section. Overall you can create a rather round or egg shape or even oval shape here, depending on what choice creates the most visually pleasing balance for your face and profile.
The ends are now ready for you to finish. You can basically repeat this or drape the ends into waves or open curls in between the curls you have created to fill out your style. Instead of bobby pins here I would use Ripple Pins (sometimes called Spiral Pins or Fantasy Pins) as these will hold your curls and looks in place without holding then flat. Ripple Pins look like this:
and can be purchased through Wildilocks on our webstore here, you may have trouble finding these outside of hairdressing suppliers otherwise. The emphasis is on making sure your ends are smooth, and place them so that they balance your design as best your eye can discern. Feel free to leave one or two little curl ends out toward the back so they drape down if the look suits your overall style. Take your time and feel free to re-distribute these ends until you are happy with the overall result. See here for more help!)
Almost there! Exciting! At this stage you should be able to start to recognise your look as Regency or early Victorian. Of course you have creative license to make this as authentic or punked up as you like. As a hairstyle, the foundation lends itself to re-creation as much as it does to Steampunk so have some fun with it.
Time to finish the look off. First of all, let us talk about why we left out the back, sides and front: for a degree of softness and to give us some more of those lovely curly ends to fill out your hairstyle and it also dresses the ponytail look into something more sophisticated.
So we start at the back, using again a very light wax or shine spray for smooth shiny curls. Clip the sides out of the way and lightly backcomb the roots here (from on top and not underneath) for a little volume. Keep it subtle, you just want a little more poof. Lightly comb from underneath to keep it smooth and pin it up and under the curls on top as close to the ponytail base as possible. You may either let the ends fall in between the curls you have left loose (if any). Once done now we repeat this on the areas behind the ears. Again keep the volume subtle. The advantage to doing the back first is when you dress the sides back and pin to the ponytail base, you are also folding the hair over the seam and hiding the back section with the side sections so it looks nice and neat. Watch that you dress the ends up and into the sides so you don’t create volume in the sides, this style is more vertical than horizontal from the front, so use those ends to create more height at the top or volume at the back of or just under the crown.
(You might notice I’m not recommending hairspray yet. When working this look I rarely use anything but the very lightest hairspray if at all until I am done. it makes it easier to move things and create balance without making a mess. If you freeze-spray it now, you may not be able to make the small adjustments as you go for balance and proportion without it being much harder than it needs to be)
The last stage! Honest.
Now it’s just the front. You should only have loose hair at the front and sides in front of the ears. Its more than appropriate to pull these back as you just did for the back. I personally like leaving pieces out around the face for softness but if this does not suit you then by all means dress the hair back. What I will quite strenuously recommend is either a centre part or no part. A side part for this look is not all that period-appropriate, and can look just a little too “bridesmaid”-like. If you are determined to have a side part then please do so, but I never do one for this look.
To emulate the pictures provided the directions are:
Create a strong centre part. Keep it straight and clean. Pull these back nice and smooth and flat – no back-combing required here! Pin the hair as close to the base as you can, weaving the ends up to the centre of your ponytail. Dress the ends as appropriate your look. Leave the pieces out that suit you (although I never do just over the ear as that’s rather a religious look than anything else) and repeat the others back as you have just done so with the front. With the ends you are leaving out, again, dress them up and into the top or back of your head for proportion and balance both from the front and side profile.
Last thing to do is check from the front and sides for overall proportion and balance. I recommend getting up and away from the mirror and looking at a bit of a distance. Once you’ve worked so close on your hair for a bit its hard to see the forest for the trees, so even give your eyes a break and do something else for five minutes.
Done? Happy? Wonderful! Now it is time to spray. Hairspray is a wonderful gift form the hairgods but it can be a force for evil as well as good, so here are a few tips:
- Always hold the can about shoulder to elbow distance from your hair. Too close and it will spray wet and become sticky, leave “beads” and not dry well if it does get wet – it will be rather stringy and not very nice.
- Don’t hold the can in one place, move it around – for all the above reasons!
- Don’t overdo the hairspray. Its not a spider so you don’t need to kill it, just coat it so it stays put. One or two passes with the spray, let it set, and then re-apply if needed.
- Rely on fantastic CHI Helmet Head if possible for the strongest hold final spray: don’t use at all until you’re absolutely certain you are finished though!
And that should be it! Enjoy the finished images below of our beautiful Alice with our version of a Regency / early Victorian hairstyle a la Jane Austen – inspired by Elizabeth as depicted in the old BBC Pride and Prejudice series (sigh!)
Want to see more? Have pictures of your hair triumphs from our Treats series? Then email us at or cruise around and read our other Treats or check out our client gallery. And if course you are always welcome to drop into Wildilocks for your own vintage hair creation.